A major snowstorm hit the Maritimes on January 19, with the greater Saint John area estimated to have received between 15 – 20 centimetres of snow. Visibility reached a low of 0.8 kilometres.
An overnight parking ban was issued for the North, South, and East areas of Saint John, as well as much of the rest of the Maritimes, to allow for snow removal.
Similar weather across the Maritimes
Similar stories are being told across New Brunswick; one of storm closures, delayed travel, and officials advising people – motorists specifically – to stay off the roads, according to CTV’s Paul Hollingsworth.
The storm had mostly passed through Nova Scotia by Saturday night after people saw wind gusts of up to 80 or 90 km/h on Friday.
Newfoundland hit with massive amounts of snow
However, in comparison to St. John’s Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia saw only a few flurries. On Friday January 17 alone, a record-breaking amount of 76.2 centimeters fell; 7.8 more centimetres than St. John’s previous record of 68.4 centimetres in April of 1999.
As of 3 p.m. on January 19, the total snowfall is said to have ranged from 10 centimetres in Grand Falls-Windsor, to 93 centimetres in Mount Pearl, according to Environment Canada. Wind gusts also reached an alarmingly high level, with a high of 171 km/h in Green Island and Fortune Bay.
The province issued a state of emergency for the first time since 1984, said St. John’s Mayor Danny Breen. According to CBC, this means “that businesses must close and vehicles must stay off roads.” Despite this, people were seen lining up in apparent defiance outside of St. Walsh’s store in St. John’s on Saturday evening.
Troops brought in to assist
The Canadian Armed Forces came in with up to 300 troops in response to a request for assistance issued by Newfoundland and Labrador’s government. The following is an excerpt from a statement issued by the Canadian Armed Forces on Facebook:
“This evening, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has commenced planning and begun activating forces to support the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador following an unprecedented winter storm. Our expected tasks will be to assist with snow removal, provide residents with transportation to warming or emergency centers, and ensure the elderly and those with health concerns are cared for. We stand with Canadians in their time of need. Your community is also our community.”
State of emergency eventually lifted
Parts of Newfoundland, such as the Avalon Peninsula, also took snowplows off the highways “due to dangerous conditions and zero visibility”, said Transportation and Works NL.
The state of emergency in St. John’s lasted for eight days, finally being lifted on January 25.
The city is also offering free public transit until February 7, in hopes to keep cars off the roads to facilitate the rest of the snow removal.